Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

My book club, the 200 club (because we only read books under 200 pages), suggested Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote from 1958. Wow. The casual racializing is somewhat breathtaking. Here on full display is unreflective presumption. Capote wrote this novel well after the publication of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952) and Native Son by Richard Wright (1940) and he surely must of been aware of the novels and (hopefully?) he read them. many passages in Breakfast at Tiffany’s you want to interpret as bracing realism accented by the detached tone of young infatuation, a meta or self-aware ignoring of responsibility…. but in the end, you know there was no such intent, the author is himself revealing, without a care, his ignoring of responsibility, his inability to think outside of a certain milieu, his inability or unwillingness to take another perspective. Or a kind of craven catering to his perceived audience. Maybe a literary scholar will suggest my reading is wrong, that his work is broader and more nuanced. That his intent is indeed more subtle and engaged than comes across. But I did not see that. Interestingly, almost all I see online are references to the movie, dealing with the Mickey Rooney character (who is quite incidental in the book). But there must be something insightful to read?

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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